Final Review: Jormungand Season 1

DISCLAIMER: Anime reviews on this blog will attempt minimal to no spoilers unless other noted. If a review seems dull or shallow, it’s because I’m trying to make sure not to go into too detail for those who are actually interested in the show before or after reading the review or those who have yet to finish the title. If you want further details, there are usually tons of reviews that can be found elsewhere on the internet. Furthermore, anime reviews in general are the sole opinion of the author writing it and thus differ across the users. There is no such thing as a “right answer” only a majority agreement. You are free to have your own opinions and thereby free to state and/or argue/debate in the comments section below or on the Fansub TV Forums. The review is not necessarily meant to serve as a recommendation but rather a personal opinion of having completed the series.

Jormungand is a 2 cour show that plans to air in the Spring 2012 and Fall 2012 anime seasons. The manga is the source material and ran from 2006 to early 2012. The manga is available in the US via Viz Media and the anime is simulcasted by Funimation Entertainment. It is animated by White Fox, the studio who also worked on Katanagatari and Steins;Gate and also directed by Katanagatari’s director. Yousuke Kuroda is the screenwriter and have composed for a number of works such as Honey and Clover II to Gundam 00. His most recent works, Maken-Ki! and High School of the Dead aren’t even remotely close to solid works, however. Jormungand, at first glance, also gives off an aura similar to Black Lagoon. Rather than mercenary pirates, we  now have arms dealers instead. Both are filled with gun action so can Jormungand live up to the Black Lagoon standards?

Jormungand follows arms dealer Koko Hekmatyar and her newest recruit Jonah. The series in terms of story is a flop overall. It raises some rather interesting arcs but there is a general lack of proper continuity preventing much memorability of past events in the show. Characters are hardly explored and when they are, it’s shallow at best. The biggest complaint, however, is while the entire crew is composed of highly experience military/guerrilla veterans, the level of experience is far from believable. The fact that not even one character died in the entire series given how close some of the combats were was rather shocking. This is especially true for Valmet and Ugo. The opposing characters are also pretty dumb themselves. They aim literally for the worst parts of the body even at point blank. If you’re trying to kill someone out of revenge, why would you shoot them in the thigh? Were you expecting them to bleed to death? Some the deals were interesting but again, the believable levels are off the charts in the wrong direction.

Art is crap for a show like this. The character designs are on and off. Some are quite representative of the characters while others were just wrong no matter how you looked at it (e.g. the American family’s faces in the final episode). The character design in comedy scenes were at least decent despite the entire context not fitting the show. Animation, which is by White Fox, is not much improvement either. In fact, I’m pretty sure this is White Fox’s worst production for as long as I can remember; even worse than Tears to Tiara in fact and that was three years ago when they first started.

OP is strong by Mami Kawada. Though while I like it, I still prefer MELL to do these type of songs. Good try though. Maybe she’ll actually be able to get much better at these kind of songs over time. ED theme by Nagi Yanagi is not really memorable and not noteworthy when compared to her past works. Background music is strong for this show and the hilarious preview rap song is excellent for all the random Engrish already in this show. Sound effects are rather poor for a gun/weaponry heavy title. Seiyuu was priceless. Itou Shizuka continues to amaze me more and more when she takes on newer roles. The Engrish is starting to get to quite the amazing level and I’m glad they cast her as Koko. It really does bring out Koko’s amazing character.

Enjoyment? The entire show is a roller coaster depending on how interesting the arcs are. There really is nothing much to complain about presentation as most of the show is made up of one to two episode arcs that can effectively be watched in any order. I rarely recall any time when the show references a previous arc except maybe the final few episodes. Black Lagoon is clearly the superior series but other titles that will also do just as well include Noir, Madlax, Gunslinger Girl, Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~, Black Cat, El Cazador de la Bruja, and to some extent Grenadier. The last three titles are not as dark nor as violent as the other suggestions but the point is there are many other violent merchant shows that do what Jormungand tries do equally if not better.

Overall, Jormungand really leaves with its first half much to be desired. It fails to really provide a compelling story for those who were tipsy about watching its second series in Fall 2012. Some may have liked the show for the comedy, but in essence, it really isn’t one. Had it shown that Koko’s forces were not so uber invincible the show may have been more interesting to watch, but when they can even take bullets at point blank and live, I think there’s something not only wrong with the antagonists of this series but that the protagonists are equally boring and dull. It’s no fun if  the “good guys” always win without casualties.

Story and Character:

  • Premise (1/1): Black Lagoon style with psychopathic arms dealer was a great asset.
  • Character Personalities (1/1): Nice interesting mix of guerrilla veterans. Decent comedy at times. Koko is a hilarious character.
  • Character Development (1/2): A little bit for Valmet as the final few episodes really focused on her. Show never really dwells too much on Jonah’s past let alone Koko’s and how she becomes an arms dealer (or even her brother).
  • Character Usefulness/Presence (1/2): A lot of characters, many of which kind of just sat on the sidelines along with some comedy relief. Not really helpful.
  • Pacing: (1/1): Despite lackluster development overall, the pacing is actually quite fine. Nothing to complain.
  • Reasonable/Plausible (0/2): Nothing makes sense in this show.
  • Conclusion (0/1): People taking 0.5 caliber at point blank, sometimes with bulletproof vests, and not even flinching….let alone living….yeah that’s not okay. If you want to play with invincibility, do it elsewhere please.
  • Total: 5/10

Art and Animation:

  • Backgrounds (0.5/2): Poor overall. There were some details at times but generally grainy.
  • Character Designs (1/2): Designs leave much to be desired. It’s different very but low quality.
  • Fluidity (1/2): I had expected better from a heavy gun show. Not much good movement here. Mostly people just being sitting ducks waiting to shoot or to be shot.
  • Visuals/Special Effects/Flashiness (1.5/2): Flashy effects kept to a minimum, which is good as it should be. Real explosions don’t have “cool” special effects. Visuals are fake though.
  • Art and Animation “Expectation” (0/2): Easily White Fox’s worst production values.
  • Total: 4/10

Sound and Music:

  • OP/ED/Insert Themes (1.5/3): Mami Kawada goodness. Was hoping for an awesome song by Nagi Yanagi to make it another awesome duo this season, but not even close.
  • Background Music (2/2): Strong and good. Hilarious preview song.
  • Sound Effects (0.5/2): Poor for a show centered around weapons.
  • Seiyuu (2.5/3): Solid overall. Itou Shizuka is priceless.
  • Total: 6.5/10

Enjoyment:

  • Amusement (2/2): Concept was interesting. Koko is someone you don’t want to mess with.
  • Weekly/Next Episode Anticipation (1/2): Show had some anticipation early on but really died down quickly as one shots became too boring to watch.
  • Presentation: (1/2): One shot episodes are okay if you do them right with something interesting. In other words, don’t make the protagonists broken strong.
  • Re-watchable (0/1): Not really worth re-watching when Black Lagoon effectively does the same thing but much better.
  • Recommendation (0/2): Too many shows in this space. Maybe not arms dealers specifically but I’m sure most people are likely watching this for the gun action. Other titles like Madlax, Black Cat, and Phantom does this better.
  • Value (0/1): Moderately hyped and no real value unless season 2 this fall pulls it act together. It didn’t even try to do much of a setup…
  • Total: 4/10

Preliminary Score: 7/10

Final Score: 5/10

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